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Fair's fair

Opinion of The Suncoast News
Published:   |   Updated: May 16, 2013 at 09:00 PM

Or at least they appeared fair in their initial outing. We speak of the Fair Districts amendments to the Florida constitution voters approved in 2010. Nov. 6 was the first statewide election conducted since the district lines for the Florida House and Senate and Florida's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives were redrawn to conform to the 2010 census. The amendments were intended to take politics out of creating legislative and congressional districts. As is usually the case, the impact of the Fair Districts amendments wasn't as profound as their advocates hoped, nor was it as onerous as their critics imagined.

Many of the backers of the amendments offered as Exhibit 1 the fact that the Florida Legislature and the Florida U.S. House delegation were increasingly dominated by Republicans, but there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state. The proponents said Gerrymandering by the GOP was giving the party an unfair advantage at the polls. That was not an implausible charge, since Gerrymandering has its roots in U.S. politics to early 19th century Massachusetts, during the governorship of Elbridge Gerry.

Under the first Fair Districts election, last Tuesday, Florida Democrats did make gains: As many as four seats in the U.S. House, two seats in the state Senate and at least four in the state House. The Florida congressional delegation and the Legislature, however, remain firmly in GOP hands.

Given the outcome, it's hard to fathom what all the fuss over the Fair Amendments was all about.

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